Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
Synopsis of MAY DAY:
If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.
It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.
Josie Jaffrey was kind enough to answer my questions as part of the tour.
If you had to describe the series as a cocktail/mocktail (with or without blood!) what would it be?
It would have to be Jack Valentine’s signature cocktail, the Valentine’s Massacre: one part vampire blood, one part human blood, one part strong liquor. Mix, drink, then have someone carry you home!
How well would Jack survive if she was transported into the world of your latest favourite TV show/movie (and her vampiric powers ripped away if they don’t exist in that world)?
My latest binge is All of Us Are Dead, an amazing Korean zombie series. If Jack was allowed to keep her powers in that world then it would be perfect, because the big selling point of the vampires in the Solis Invicti series is that they are the only thing scary enough to keep the zombies away. But if she was just a regular human then she’d drag herself out of bed at midday, discover she was late for the apocalypse and promptly find herself zombified by the ravening hordes.
What’s a typical writing day for you? Is there such a thing?
There’s definitely no such thing anymore! I used to have a regular schedule, but these days I just fit the writing in wherever I can find a clear stretch of a few hours. With less time than that, I find it impossible to settle down into the story.
This series is set in an alternative version of the modern day while your other Silververse books are set in a dystopic future. How did that affect your writing process? Was it easier or harder to write?
The setting is actually much easier in the Seekers series, because I’m not having to create it myself from scratch. It’s set in Oxford, where I’ve lived for 20 years, so I know it like the back of my hand and can concentrate on exploiting the amazing buildings for my story rather than having to imagine everything anew. But equally there are aspects of the Seekers series that are much more challenging than the other Silverse books, particularly the fact that murder mysteries are fiendish to plot, so making sure that side of the story works is what takes up most of my preparation process.
How much do you research for your books and what’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to google?
It really depends on the book. For the Sovereign series, I spent a huge amount of time researching locations and horses. For the Seekers series, it’s mostly researching forensics and weird medical conditions. But the biggest research jobs are historical novels like The Wolf and The Water, which mean researching everything about the world in which you’re writing. I’ve got a couple of those on the blocks at the moment and I find the weight of knowledge required a bit overwhelming.
I’ve googled plenty of weird things recently that I probably shouldn’t mention to avoid spoilers, but for The Wolf and The Water the weirdest (and most important) were recipes for Ancient Greek cakes. I’m pleased to report that they all sound delicious!
How much had the world of the Silververse changed since you started working on it? Has any of that surprised you?
When I started writing the Solis Invicti series, I didn’t expect that I would write anything else in that world, but it soon became an uncontrollable monster of a story that kept throwing up more ideas. I have plans for yet another series set in that world, plus two other projects that are a bit different. Hopefully I’ll be starting on those in 2023.
I was surprised by Cam. I envisaged him as a side character from the very beginning, but he’s become more and more central, to the point that he’s now the thing gluing the whole world together.
If you were a vampire, what role would you have within the Silver’s organisation? Or would you be a rebel outside it?
The problem I have is that I am both utterly rebellious (in the sense that I am pedantic and ungovernable) and completely useless. I’m awful at any situation that requires politicking or finessing, so I suspect I’d just end up on my own with no vampire friends!
If you were able to mix up an existing IP (or fairy tale etc) with vampires, what would it be and why?
Hannibal, the TV series. I am obsessed with it, and it’s obsessed with blood, so lends itself perfectly to the introduction of vampires. There’s something ethereal and artistic in the way it presents the goriest scenes, reshaping them through the sensibilities of its serial killer main character, and that seems very vampiric to me. Hannibal Lecter is basically a vampire already, so why not take the next step?
What’s involved in designing the covers for your books?
It differs depending on the series. The covers for the Solis Invicti and Sovereign series were created for me by the excellent Martin Beckett, but I’ve done most of the other covers myself. For the Seekers series, I pick a colour and an Oxford landmark, chuck Jack in there somewhere, and get sketching on the tablet. I like having control over the covers so they come out feeling like they’re representative of me, just as the books do, even if that might make them tougher to market than standard photo-manipulated covers.
Can you give us a hint of what’s going to be in the final book, two truths and a lie style?
So the good/bad news (depending on your perspective!) is that the Seekers series will be at least five books, so Winta’s Day (book 3) won’t be the final one.
(Oops my bad! Not sure why I had it in my head as a trilogy, so YAY for more books!)
I can tell you that two of the following things about it are true:
- Emmy from the Solis Invicti series will make an appearance
- It’s set at Christmas
- It contains the most complicated love polygon I’ve ever written!
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Josie!
Seekers (this series):
- THE GILDED KING (#1)